Wise Women Friday: Carrie Fisher

Words of wisdom from Princess Leia herself:

Resentment is like drinking a poison 
and waiting for the other person to die.

You will find this hard to believe, but I know a thing or two about resentment.  Does that surprise you?  It's true, I do look so poised and serene in my spankin' new picture.  And, of course, those of you who have met me probably recall how waves of compassion and forgiveness just seem to radiate off my skin.  

But here's my dirty little secret:  I've been known to hold a grudge.  Once, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away called Henry M. Gunn Senior High School, I wrote an essay on The Lord of the Flies.  I swear, it was the best thing I had ever written.  It was smart and innovative; probably it could have been the basis for a fricking dissertation, and all I got was a stinking B+.  Now I have nothing against B+'s in general.  It's just that this essay was a masterpiece.  This was in 1981.  I'm still a little aggrieved; I still blame that teacher for perpetuating a great injustice.

These days, most of the resentments I harbor involve people (teachers mostly) who, for some strange reason (reality mostly) do not seem to recognize the innate genius and sparkling personalities of my children.  But, I am working on letting those things go.  I am working on getting those waves of compassion and forgiveness that radiate off me to actually seep inside me and fill the well.  Because, in the end, Princess Leia does have the Force on her side.  Giving into resentment really only poisons you.  It's not like my high school English teacher ever regretted that B+ he gave me.  It's not like the bourgeois teacher who is too blind to recognize the brilliant literary quality of a little story called "The Fateful Journey of Paul Revere's Horse," is crying over her inconceivable choice not to hang said story on the wall.  My resentments do nothing to these cretons.  My resentments only poison me.  So....I am breathing in, and I am breathing out.  I am not living in the past, and I am not living in the future.  I am right here.  Now.  Wondering who the hell ate my last birthday cupcake.


Goddess of the Week: Fortuna

All hail Fortuna, the Roman goddess of good fortune and luck whose origins seem as uncertain as her gifts.  She may have evolved from a Greek goddess, or she could have been Etruscan.  She sometimes holds a cornucopia; sometimes she's blindfolded.  She often has a Vanna White style Wheel of Fortune, and I like to think that she looks just Vanna White.  One thing is for sure, she is fickle and you really cannot trust her to come through for you.  In fact, once you start trusting her you are really in trouble, at least so said one Roman philosopher, who warned that Fortuna "is ever most friendly and alluring to those whom she strives to deceive."

But then she doesn't seem like the kind of gal you'd want to piss off either.  Eeeny, meenie, miney, moe: whose job/house/retirement savings ought to go?  Is there rhyme?  Is there reason?  Or is it just Fortuna playing with her wheel?

Channel this goddess: Hmmmm...do you really want to take your chances?  Yes?  Well, then go to Las Vegas.  Head straight to the roulette table.  Put everything you own on red.  Cross your fingers.  Tell me how it works out.


NEW Wise women Friday: Gloria Steinham

Words of wisdom from pioneering feminist Gloria Steinham:

We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.

I did this entirely wrong in my previous post.  I was looking at my VISA statement when I meant to look at my American Express Platinum.  Thanks to Desiree for bringing this to my attention.  Here are the last few purchases I meant to tell you about.

  1. Bulgari (I know bling is gauche in these hard economic times, but I'm really just trying to help the economy.)
  2. Harvard (Nifty how they are accepting prepayment on tuition these days.  The children really wanted to go to Yale, but I told them only the Crimson would do.)
  3. Thomas Moser (I'm loving my new handcrafted dining room table and chairs.)
  4. AAA Charter Planes (Welcome, my friends, to Fantasy Island.)  

Wise Women Friday: Gloria Steinham

Words of wisdom from pioneering feminist Gloria Steinham: 

We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.  

I hardly ever use my checkbook anymore.  I'm more of a VISA gal.  Here are the last five things on my statement: 

  1. Vons
  2. Chevron
  3. Pavilions
  4. Trader Joe's
  5. Kaiser Permanente

Pretty boring, huh?  I'm almost ashamed to be seen with me.  Where's the color and dash?  Where's the dramatic disclosure?  I've got nothing, except, apparently, a lot groceries.  What's on your statement and what does it say about you? 


Poor, Sad, Archaic Cursive

Did you know that I was a penmanship leader in fifth grade?  I wrote such lovely cursive that I had the privilege of tutoring classmates with sloppy, sharp-edged, messy, messy, messy penmanship.  Maybe I tutored you!  Did you go to Ventura Elementary School in Palo Alto, California in 1977?  No?  That's ok.  Maybe you have nice cursive anyway.  

No?  You hate cursive?  Then take heart.  I have good news:  Cursive is dead.  I know that cursive is dead because last fall, for the first time ever, I had to stop using my beautiful script in my college classroom.  No one could read it.  The first No Child Left Behind generation has left cursive behind.  And why not?  There is no standardized cursive test.  And we all know that if there is no standardized test for something, it must not be very important.  Plus, with computers, handwriting is, apparently, a bit superfluous.  

Of course, not every one is taking this lying done.  There are books, specifically Kitty Burns Florey's  Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting.  There are also outraged teachers who punish the victims (the kids taught only a flimsy version of the cursive signature) by refusing to write in anything but what is to their students an impenetrable flurry of curves and loops.  

The end of cursive is sad in the way that the end of archaic things are always sad.  There is that nostalgia, that longing, that Luddite impulse to hate the new.  This is, of course, especially true for the penmanship leaders among us.  After all, some of us have so few things to feel really smug about.  It seems rather cruel to deny us our flowery penmanship too.  

What do you think?  The death of cursive: the end of western civilization as we know it?  Or a minor blip on the road to mental telepathy?  Pick up your pencils -- make that your keyboards-- and...begin.


Goddess of the Week: Clio

On this gloomy President's Day, I bring you Clio, the Greek muse of History.  She and her eight sister muses are the patron goddesses of the arts and learning.  They are the children of Zeus and Mnemosyne (a Titan and the goddess of memory), who managed to spend nine nights together without Zeus's jealous wife Hera finding them.  For each night they spent together they produced one daughter.

It is interesting that while Clio and her sisters are famous for their ability to inspire artists and storytellers, there are not a lot of stories about the muses themselves.  They are sort of like the black holes of mythology.  Everything points to them, but you can't really ever see them for themselves.  

Did you know that in my former life I was a historian?  It's true.  Thus, I like Clio, even though I never feel like I can get a handle on her.  But that's history isn't it?  You can never really get a handle on it.  Just when you think you know the story, the characters change right out from under you.  Just when you think George Washington is about wooden teeth and cheery trees, you realize he's about slaves at Mount Vernon and inequality in the age of liberty.  Just when you think Lincoln is about stove-top hats and freeing the slaves you realize he's about biracialism in the twenty-first century and little African-American girls living in the White House.  

A Roman poet wrote, "Begin thou, unforgetting Clio, for all the ages are in thy keeping, and all the storied annals of the past."  History may be in Clio's keeping, but it is entrusted to us to tell.  And he who writes the stories gets to choose the cast.  So...write your story.  Don't trust it to another soul.  


Valentine's Advice

Dear Cupid:  Help!  I forgot to buy my wife a Valentine's gift.  What should I do?  


Forgetful and Clearly Stupid

Dear Forgetful:

No problem.  In these challenging economic times, simply tell your beloved that what you really want to celebrate is her!  How?  It couldn't be easier!  Scrub the tub.  Really use some elbow grease to get rid of all that scum.  Then, since you're already there, go ahead and clean the toilet and the sink.  Mop the floor and put out some fresh towels.  Make that bathroom shine!  This is your wife we're talking about.  Doesn't she deserve the best!  Doesn't she deserve a clean bathroom that she didn't have to clean herself for the first time in twenty years!

Now, when that bathroom is spic-and-span, invite her to take a nice hot bubble bath.  Run the water for her!  Light some candles!  So far you haven't spent a penny so make this work.  As she luxuriates in the bath, go ahead and make dinner.  Your first temptation may be to defrost a pizza or get out the fine china cereal bowls.  Resist that urge.  Remember, it was your own lamentable carelessness that got you into this situation.  You will have to actually cook.  If you are not an experienced cook I would suggest something simple: A lovely pasta carbonara, for example.  Believe me, there is nothing more romantic than bacon, and it seems inconceivable that you don't have bacon, eggs, and spaghetti waiting for you in your kitchen.  If you are a food blogger, then you better make this good because you are just asking for trouble if you try and pawn off  some lame grilled cheese sandwiches and frozen peas onto your lady love. 

Now, if you've played your card rights, the night will be yours for romance!  But there is one more thing you must do if you want to pull this off.  You must change the sheets.  Take those dirty sheets that have been on your bed for the last two months, put them in the washer -- on HOT -- and let the magic washing machine do its work.  Maybe go ahead and flip that mattress too.  Then, put some clean sheets on the bed, preferably flannel because it's been cold lately!  Fluff those pillows.  Make everything nice and tidy.  What?  You don't know how?  I blame your mother.  Still, it's not rocket science.  Figure it out.  

Do these things and your Valentine will love you forever, for, you see, romance doesn't cost a penny, it just takes time.  


Wise Women Friday: Moms everywhere

Words of wisdom from probably every mother who ever lived: 

Wash your hands.  

Alas, had my own offspring followed this sound advice, I would not be trapped at home watching Pirates of the Caribbean for the one-thousandth time.  Hark!  La prima donna della pestilent cough beacons!  Must Fly.  


Goddess of the Week: Venus

My secret confession this Valentine's week is that Venus is my favorite goddess.  It seems a little unlike me, I know.  Venus is the Roman goddess of love and beauty.  How much more irritating frothy blondes rising from clamshells can you get?  

But it's only our modern inclination to make concepts as deep as postcards that makes Venus synonymous with pop love songs and Viagra-free sex.

The really Venus was a pistol.  Her origins are disputable, but what is indisputable is that she was so beautiful that Zeus had to choose her husband so that the gods wouldn't slaughter each other over her.  He chose club-footed Vulcan, who made Venus fabulous jewels but who, alas, could do little to stop his wife's wandering eye.  Indeed, she was not the most faithful of spouses, but she didn't get to choose her own husband did she?  And, really, she was a lot better than all those gods who slept with every shepherdess whoever batted an eye.  They wanted power; she wanted a good time.  

But she wasn't all sex and romance.  Oh, no. She could be a real bitch too.  She tried to thwart her son Cupid's love with a princess by the name of Psyche.  She even tried to make the poor girl kill herself.  And when a couple of lovers forgot to thank her for a gift, she compelled them to have sex in another goddess's temple, fully knowing that that goddess would feel so insulted that she'd turn them into lions and make them pull her around in a chariot for all eternity.

Still, she saved her son Aeneas from the burning of Troy, and she made his descendents the first Caesars of Rome.  In fact, the Romans called her Venus Genetrix, Venus the mother, and she protected them in times of need.  She was their patron goddess.

I guess what I like about Venus is that you can't pin her down.  She's a thousand things, but she is always vivacity and the determined need to make life a rich and rewarding experience.  She is daffodils that spring up after a winter rainstorm.  She is the sun that shines through the clouds.  She is the little babe that screams as it enters the lights.  She is the dance that continues after the music stops.  Death happens.  Bad things happen.  But Venus never falters.  She is life.  She is love.  And that's why Venus conquers all.  


What I learned in The Great Bacon Caper

1. Bloggers are competitive.  Even vegetarians will blog about bacon if offered a prize.
2. There is no goddess of bacon.  I had to make one up.  
3. Judgers of blogging competitions must be very sure of themselves and not at all wishy-washy. 
4. I am not a good judge.  Choosing a winner was very stressful.  Next time I'm going to make Paula Abdul judge.  


And the Winner is...

Welcome to the 2009 Great Bacon Caper award's ceremony: the one event where the pig is actually the prize.  

Oh, what a whirlwind it's been.  Creativity, ingenuity, the ruthless pursuit of Bristol Farms Bacon -- and that's just Petrea.  Before the winner is announced, let's a take a moment and review the amazing baconcentric entries we've received.  So sit back, set your Pandora Radio to Barbra Streisand's "Memories,"  and read on.  

Oh how I remember the first entry: Vanda's Bacon Rhapsody.  When challenged by a certain blogger on issues of original creation, the undefatigible Vanda got straight back in the game with The Pink Pig that Could.   

Several competitors brought us food related posts.  Susan's BLAT is as close to food porn as this blog gets.   CB3Dot went the recipe route too, although I'm not sure if he realized that he even entered the contest.  Pasadena Adjacent went the pizza route, and the Restless Chef brought us lard.  A bit too late Kathy H. brought us a recipe for bacon-wrapped dates.  

I really liked Mr. Earl's political angle.  And Petrea is also so clever.  Like Mr. Earl she knows there is always more than one way to interpret bacon.  

Altadena Hiker brought us a pretty dirty pig.  She's always so funny, and I do like a good laugh.

But I can also be introspective, and the poet Linda Dove brought us a poem called On the Stove in the Kitchen.  It's worth repeating:  

The anticipation of this bacon in the pan;
Pastries for a salt-toothed girl.  

Don't you love that?  A bit too late Miss Havisham brought us another poem.  And so did Paula Johnson.  (See below.)  They could have been contenders but...they did miss the deadline.

Ok.  Turn of the music.  Calm down.  Breathe deep.  Are you ready for your close-up?  After much consideration and a sleepless night -- and remember this is an imperfect world where merit not always rewarded as much as it should be, and you were all brilliant and you all deserve to win  -- the award of the Great Bacon Caper goes to...

Linda Dove, for her poem "On the Stove in the Kitchen."

But all the competitors are so fabulous that I invite you to my house for breakfast.  We'll do it during my spring break in March.  Stay tuned.  

And congratulations Linda!  

Winner to be announced...soon

The winner will be announced soon.  Business before pleasure.  I must take my daughter to school.

Late entries worth your attention

Miss Havisham graces us with a fabulous bacon and eggs poem.  Check it out.  

And the ever clever Paula Johnson (my personal IT department) offers this haiku: 

The average pig
counts on vegetarians
to save his bacon.

And Kathy H. sends a recipe for Bacon-wrapped dates.  

Alas, this outstanding entries are a little too-late to be eligible for our prize of one pound of Bristol Farm's best bacon (I would bend the rules but I'm afraid some of our competitors would hurt me), but I thank them for sharing.  And to the competitors I just want to say that you are very luck because these are very, very clever people. 


A Bacon Poem No Less

And would you believe it...a bacon poem by Linda Dove.  

Oink, oink.

There's one more: Altadena Hiker communes with frisky livestock.  Check it out.

The Great Bacon Caper Heats Up

Well, it's down to the wire.  The Great Bacon Caper ends tonight, and we have more bloggers throwing their work in the ring.  Representing the year of the pig, is Pasadena Adjacent and representing the lovers of lard is Restless Chef, a newby but a goody.  My, my, my this little piggie has her work set out for her.  I'll announce the winner Monday


Can you find the bacon?

Petrea and Mr. Earl: They are clever, clever people.  They've brought the Great Bacon Caper to an entirely new level.  What shall I do?  I'm beginning to feel the heavy weight of responsibility.  Sigh.  


BLAT Me Some More

We have another entry, and it will make your mouth water.  Check out Susan's Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato Nirvana.  I'm impressed.  

Wise Women Friday: Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker

Words of wisdom from Irma and Marion, the mother-daughter team who brought us The Joy of Cooking:

It is a sobering fact that unless you 
use the rendered grease [of bacon], 
you are eating only one-fifth of what you buy.

First printed in the height of the Depression, The Joy of Cooking is nothing if not a thrifty homemaker's bible.  And now, in these austere times, who among is not, on some level, a thrifty homemaker?  But what to do with the rendered bacon grease?  How can one use the total package, as it were?  That is the question. 

Of course, you can cook with it, as is commonly done in the south. (Think: pie crust.)

But must economy doom us to heart disease, strokes, and fat thighs?  I say no!  With a little creativity, bacon fat can be as versatile as that favorite black dress you dress up or down for any occasion.  Why wait?  Start today: Use your bacon fat in any of these fabulous ways:

1. Moisturizer.  Perfectly natural and chemical free (as long as the bacon is organic), but do pass through a sieve first as little bits of bacon on the face are not at all attractive.
2. Scented crayons.  Just mix with a little paraffin and food coloring.  Bake until hard.
3. Humane dog call.  Don't torment Fido with one of those high-pitched whistles that only canines can hear.  To dogs, that's like scratching fingernails on a blackboard.  Slather a little bacon fat on your wrist and Fido will come running.  Even better, he may bring a few friends.  The more the merrier is what I say!
4. Candles.  Enough said.
5. Bird Feeder.  Just douse the fat in some bird seed, attach some yarn and hang from a tree.  You'll have a regular aviary!  (Warning: do not leave small pets or children unattended.)
6. Lubricant.  Enough said.
7. Chapstick.
8. Volumizing hair gel.

Why stop there?  There must a million things to do with bacon fat.  As the old saying goes: The world is your oyster and bacon fat is your Swiss Army Knife.


I Smell Bacon

The pig's beginning to sizzle.  Check out our first entry.  Now don't be discouraged.  She is a design professional, but you're clever too.  Way to go Vanda at Toadberry.  

On a happy, pork-free note

Yeah for me!  I just found out that my short story "Hard Being You" will be published in the premier issue of the new literary journal WordRiver.  It comes out this April.  I'll keep you posted.


I Challenge You: The Great Bacon Caper

What the people want is bacon.   I therefore issue a blogger challenge.  You have one week to post something that will appeal to the masses' love of bacon.  Will it be a restaurant review?  A recipe?  A poem?  An artwork?  Surprise me.  

The winner will be the blogger best able to capture the spirit of the theme: "The Great Bacon Caper."  I am also curious to know if blogs about bacon really do garner attention.  So you will get bonus points if you can tell me that traffic to your blog spiked as a result of your bacon post.

The prize?  One pound of Bristol Farms very best butcher counter bacon, which I will hand deliver to you.  

Spread the word, and be sure to tell me when you post!